We dipped into water features last week in our blog, now this week we are going to talk about designing a water garden. If you do not have a water feature at your home, you can still create a water garden by using any type of hollowed-out container that catches rainwater. In this blog, we will look specifically at water gardens in an in-ground pond!
In order to have a natural-looking water garden you will need to make sure that you have sloped pond with planting terraces that step down to the deepest area of the pond. When you install different height shelves you are able to plant a diversity of plant material thus creating different habitats. Water gardens should include floating plants, submerged plants and plants that can live on the edge of your water feature.
Let’s talk a little about these specific kinds of plants:
FLOATING PLANTS- these are used to provide shade in the water, and they help to absorb dissolved nutrients. Because they are sucking up these nutrients, they are helping to provide a clean pond by suppressing the algae. Some specific floating plants include duckweed, American frogbit, water hyacinth, water lettuce, lotus and water lilies. HARDY Water lilies are a favorite of many homeowners as they come in a variety of colors; white, pink, red, yellow & more. These gorgeous additions bloom from late spring until the first frost and will survive the winter months in deep ponds. You can plant your water lilies in a sturdy pot and submerge them 10-18 inches deep. TROPICAL water lilies look similar to HARDY lilies but they bloom larger and are often fragrant. FUN FACT! Some TROPICAL lilies bloom during the day while others open up at night!!! Don’t forget to fertilize your floating plants (as most are contained in pots) by inserting fertilization tablets into the soil near the roots monthly.
SUBMERGED PLANTS- grow beneath the surface of the water for their entire lives. Because these plants are oxygenators, they obtain their nutrients in the water directly through the stems and leaves. Just like floating plants, these plants will help to keep your pond clean by absorbing the dissolved nutrients. These plants will also allow for a ‘spawning’ area and hiding place for fish and other water creatures. Common submerged plants are anacharis, hornwort, cabomba, hairgrass, and saittaria.
EDGE PLANTS- these are grown on a shelf 5-10 inches below the water’s surface or can be planted in moist soil next to your water feature. Just like submerged plants, these beauts will help to provide shelter for your environmental friends! Some of our favorite edge plants are arrowhead, cattails and marsh marigold.
!! At the end of the season you will want to remove and discard water plants in your compost !!
FISH & CREATURES- Fish are a fun addition to your water feature because they are beautiful to watch swim as the sun glistens off of their gills and they also help keep the mosquito population in check and their waste will provide nutrients to your plant life. Most fish stocked in your water feature, goldfish and koi, will be able to survive the winter months in a deep enough pond. When your pond begins to settle it will start to be home to other creatures like birds, frogs, toads, snails, dragonflies and other water insects. They will each find their home and will help to complete your ecosystem!
Maintaining your water system is rather simple if you have the right mix of plants. Remember to remove dead or dying plant matter regularly. Green water and hair algae are common early in the season until other water plants outcompete them for nutrients and sun. If you plan on adding fish to your pond you may need to invest in a filtration or aeration system to help clean and oxygenate the water.
The addition of a water garden is a place to escape and enjoy the color, design and creatures while listening to the soothing sound of water flowing. Water gardens can provide years of awe at your home if done correctly and maintained regularly . Picking plants and placing them at the correct heights for a dramatic design can be tricky but here, at Total Package Landscape, we have an experienced team of professionals that are excited to help you through this journey as you begin your dance with nature!